Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A Detective Comics #1037 Micro-Review – Secret Identity Blown?!?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Detective Comics 1037, Lee Bermejo variant cover, 2021TITLE: Detective Comics #1037
AUTHORS: Mariko Tamaki, John Ridley
ARTISTS: Victor Bogdanovic, Karl Mostert, Dustin Nguyen, Jonathan Glapion (Co-Inker), Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), John Kalisz (Colorist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), Rob Leigh (Letterer), Tom Napolitano. Variant cover by Lee Bermejo.
RELEASED: June 8, 2021

There’s a weird error in this issue. Mr. Worth, a new villain, is hunting Bruce Wayne. He asks aloud, “Where are you, Wayne?” Batman then pops out and says, “Here!” Kind of gives away the whole secret identity thing, doesn’t it?

John Ridley and Dustin Nguyen do a back-up story this time around. As far as I’m concerned, both of them are always welcome in Batman’s world. Naturally, it serves as a precursor to The Next Batman.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Detective Comics #1034

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Detective Comics #1034
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Gleb Melnikov, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Aditya Bidikar (Letterer), Troy Peteri (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 23, 2021

Gorgeous issue, whether you’re talking about Mora’s Batman or Melnikov’s Robin back-up.

In terms of hammering home that Bruce Wayne now has significantly less money, there’s a great little scene in this book of our hero doing some manual labor to set up one of his “DIY caves.”

I’m really optimistic about Tamaki and Mora’s run on this book. There’s tremendous potential for both great storytelling and great art. Here’s hoping this is the start of something great.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Batman/Catwoman #4

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Batman/Catwoman #4
AUTHOR: Tom King
ARTISTS: Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey (Colorist) Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 30, 2021

There’s a gorgeous two-page spread of Catwoman in this issue, with Batman in the background. Beautiful work by Mann and Morey.

Less beautiful? The full page shot of one of Selina’s cats standing over a dead penguin (the bird, not the villain) with its throat bitten out. Seriously.

Selina is acting weird in this story, maintaining some kind of loyalty to the Joker while still in a relationship with Bruce. It doesn’t cast her in a favorable light at all, and I’m not a fan. This same dynamic with a lesser villain? Maybe. But the Joker? No.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: The Next Batman: Second Son #2

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: The Next Batman: Second Son #2
AUTHOR: John Ridley
ARTISTS: Tony Akins, Travel Foreman, Marco Failla (Breakdowns), Mark Morales (Inker), Rex Lokus (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
RELEASED: March 2, 2021

So what we’ve got here is an origin story for Tim Fox’s Batman. There’s plenty of intrigue there. Though don’t let the cover confuse you: That’s Tim’s brother Luke Fox as Batwing.

There’s a decent amount of talk about the “Joker War” storyline here. The implication seems to be that in this universe, that’s where everything fell apart. No more Bruce Wayne as Batman, no more Commissioner Gordon, and a full-on ban of masked vigilantes in Gotham. It’s a whole new world out there, people…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: Dark Detective #4

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: Dark Detective #4
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Giannis Milonogiannis
COLORIST: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERERS:
Aditya Bidikar, Troy Peteri
RELEASED: February 23, 2021

This one felt like it still had a lot of gas left in the tank. It’s always a good thing to leave your audience wanting more. But here’s hoping we more of Dark Detective Bruce Wayne somewhere down the line.

Thankfully, we will indeed see a continuation of the Red Hood back-up, via a new ongoing series. Reportedly, it involves Jason Todd hunting down his former cohorts. Throw in the romance between Jason and the Ravager, and it’ll definitely be worth a look.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: Dark Detective #3

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: Dark Detective #3
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Matthew Rosenberg
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Carmine Di Giandomenico
COLORISTS: Jordie Bellaire, Antonio Fabela
LETTERERS: Aditya Bidika, Andworld Design
RELEASED: February 9, 2021

Batman v Superman‘s enduring legacy, at least as far as the comics are concerned, seems to be putting Batman in a long coat over his costume. I’ve never been a fan of this look, and I’m sad to see Dan Mora use it. Though at least Mora’s version doesn’t wear a cape and a coat.

As the cover suggests, Bruce and the Future State Batman meet in this issue. It’s not nearly the big, meaningful scene you want it to be. It’s more of, “Hey! Stay in your lane!” It felt very rushed.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Future State: Dark Detective #2

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Future State: Dark Detective #2
AUTHOR: Mariko Tamaki, Joshua Williamson
ARTISTS: Dan Mora, Giannis Milogiannis, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist)
LETTERERS:
Aditya Bidikar, Troy Peteri
RELEASED: January 27, 2021

In this issue, Tamaki gives Bruce Wayne a crappy old bunker to live in, along with a cooky old roommate. I don’t know if it’s intended to be funny. But it is.

The Red Hood back-up puts this issue over-the-top in terms of quality, as we see Jason Todd working with the authorities. That’s, of course, a complete reversal of his traditional M.O. Throw in some really cool “sketchy” art from Giannis Milogiannis, and a new partner in the Ravager, and you have one of the highlights of Future State thus far.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: The Cruise of a Lifetime

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: Superman #76
AUTHOR: Edmond Hamilton
ARTISTS: Curt Swan, John Fischetti (Inker). Cover by Win Mortimer.
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: 10 cents
RELEASED: 1952

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Published in 1952, Superman #76 is generally considered to be the first “proper” meeting of Batman and Superman. Granted, they’d been appearing on comic book covers together since the 40s. They’d also appeared together with the Justice Society in the pages of All-Star Comics. Batman and Robin had also made guest appearances on The Adventures of Superman radio show. But often, when historians are asked, “When did Batman and Superman meet in the comics?”, they point to this issue.

Put on your writer/editor hat for a moment: You want to have Superman and Batman, the two biggest and most popular superheroes in the world, meet for the “first time.” Where and how does it happen? In Metropolis? Gotham City? During a battle against Lex Luthor? The Joker? How did they discover one another’s identities? Did Superman use his x-ray vision? Did Batman brilliantly deduce that Clark Kent is Superman? There are a litany of possibilities. So what did they go with…?

Superman and Batman met on a cruise ship.

That’s right, folks. They met and even discovered one another’s identities aboard a goddamn cruise ship. What’s more, in it’s own little way, it worked. It was kind of a genius move, actually.

Written by Edmond Hamilton and drawn by Curt Swan, “The Mightiest Team in the World” kicks off with Batman and Robin doing something unthinkable by today’s standards: Taking a vacation. As Dick Grayson prepares to visit relatives upstate, Bruce Wayne is about to take “a real vacation, on a coastal cruise! I’ll just relax and forget crime for a change!”

Clearly pre-Silver Age heroes knew how to balance business and pleasure, as Clark Kent is about to vacation on the same cruise. And wouldn’t you know it, he winds up sharing a room with Bruce Wayne!

Then, via the magical serendipity of fiction, a jewel thief blows up a nearby tanker truck and uses the diversion to make off with a shipment of diamonds. Naturally, our heroes are keen to jump into action. Feigning fatigue, Bruce kills the lights, prompting both men to do their superhero quick-change.

But low and behold, the light from the flames shines through the window, revealing Bruce Wayne to be Batman and Clark Kent as Superman!

I used to balk at what, in hindsight, is a pretty historic moment. But I’ve found the more years go by, the more I soften on it. As a 30-something adult, I’ve actually come to appreciate it quite a bit.

One of the cardinal sins of a Superman/Batman story, for my money, is making one hero look superior to the other. These two men should stand on equal footing. If you can’t manage that, then you shouldn’t be writing the two characters together.

With this issue, the revelation is pure happenstance. We don’t have Superman peeking under Batman’s cowl with his x-ray vision. Batman doesn’t concoct some conniving scheme to discover Clark’s secret. It’s simply fate that they discover one another’s identities by accident in a moment of heroism. In that sense, it’s kind of perfect…

What’s more, they don’t spend a lot of time digesting it or brooding over it. They recognize they still have work to do, and they get to it.

Obviously our villain is meant to be the jewel thief, who has stowed away on the cruise ship. But I’d argue another character is perhaps inadvertently placed in an opposing role: Lois Lane. After seeing Superman and Batman on board the ship, Lois comes aboard looking for the story. Our heroes now have to keep her at bay while searching for the jewel thief.

After giving Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne a sea-sickness alibi, our heroes try pawning Batman off on Lois. The idea is that if Superman pretends to be jealous, “she’d be too occupied for amateur detective work!” But Lois is on to them. She pretends to actually be enamored with the Caped Crusader, which in turn actually does make the Man of Steel jealous.

Considering some of the stories we’d later get in books like Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane, it’s not necessarily surprising to see them lean into a jealousy angle between Superman and Lois. But on the other hand, it’s nice to see Lois portrayed as a force to be reckoned with among the heroes. Batman may be the world’s greatest detective, but contrary to what Superman says here, Lois is hardly an amateur detective herself.

C’mon Superman. It’s not amateur detective work. It’s called investigative journalism.

One of the classic Superman/Batman tricks is having the two disguise as one another. Superman dresses as Batman, Batman dresses as Superman, etc. Tom King and Clay Mann put a nice spin on this trope in Batman not long ago. We see an early version of it here, as after our heroes inevitably catch the bad guy, Bruce Wayne masquerades as Clark Kent while standing next to Superman to throw Lois off the scent of Clark’s true identity.

She gets the last laugh, though. Lois does indeed get a date with a hero by the end of the issue: Robin. (“Isn’t he the cutest little chap?”) How’d they get in touch, as Dick is supposed to be upstate, and we’re long before the age of cell phones? Why, that’s not important…

“The Mightiest Team in the World” is filled to the brim with pre-Silver-Age charm. What’s more, it does right by its characters. Superman and Batman come out of it looking like the world’s finest heroes. Lois Lane stands out as a clever go-getter, and not simply a brainless damsel. Even Robin gets a date by the end. Truly a red letter issue for all parties.

A cruise ship. Who’da thunk it?

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Best of Batman & Superman: A New Era Begins

***It’s easy to put Batman and Superman against one another, as they’re so different. But those who truly understand them know that the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel are better together! “Best of Batman & Superman” celebrates their best moments as a team!***

TITLE: Superman/Batman #1
AUTHOR: Jeph Loeb
ARTISTS: Ed McGuinness, Dexter Vines (Inker), Dave Stewart (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer)
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
ORIGINAL COVER PRICE: $2.95
RELEASED: Fall 2003

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It’s hard to believe this issue is creeping up on 20 years of age. And yet, among Batman and Superman stories, it’s a timeless classic.

If I could bring one person back to work on Superman and Batman, seperate or together, it would be Jeph Loeb. He understood both characters, and cut to their core better than almost any of his peers. That’s why, in the early 2000s, DC tapped Loeb and his former Superman collaborator Ed McGuinness to work on an all new title featuring the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight: Superman/Batman.

Loeb would do more than 25 issues of Superman/Batman, roughly half of which were with McGuinness. Almost all of them were great. But the book’s inaugural issue, Superman/Batman #1, delivered pure magic. You’ll won’t find a better example of why these two characters are better working together than against each other.

The series is narrated by both characters simultaneously. Thus, we get duel perspectives on the events of the story. Loeb makes perfect use of this tool right out of the gate, as our heroes narrate their origins in alternating sequences (shown below).

Loeb, McGuinness, and the team start out with dueling sequences in which Superman and Batman narrate their origins. What’s brilliant about this is that it showcases not just the differences between these two characters, but their similarities. Yes, they have different methods and demeanors. But its this common ground that ultimately brings them together. These are two heroes born of tragedy, who used that tragedy to forge their identities for the betterment of mankind. That mutual desire to better the world serves as the foundation of every Superman/Batman story we’ve ever seen.

Our main antagonist for the issue (though not the story at large) is Metallo, a machine with the brain of John Corben, and a heart of pure Kryptonite. Coming out of the opening sequence we get a fight between he and Superman in Metropolis. We then jump to Gotham City Cemetery, where Batman is examining Corben’s grave.

Here we get a great little moment between our heroes. One of my favorites in the entire six-issue story. Superman talks about going through Corben’s files at S.T.A.R. Labs, and speculating about his actions of late. Batman asks, “Which one of us is the detective again?”

Superman replies with a line I absolutely love: “It’s called investigative journalism.”

I love this moment because it illustrates that while Superman isn’t the detective Batman is, he’s not just some brute with super powers. Writers like to emphasize that Batman is the brains of the team, while Superman is the braun. But the best writers are the ones who show us it’s not as simple as that. Superman is perfectly capable of putting on a detective hat, just as Batman can hold his own against some of Superman’s more powerful enemies.

We’re reminded of that moments later as Metallo attacks, shooting Superman with a Kryptonite bullet. And of course, he falls directly into John Corben’s exhumed grave. After briefly incapacitating Metallo, Batman goes to work trying to extract the bullet. Loeb provides us with another great little moment as we get this little exchange…

Batman: “Do me a favor, Clark. Lose the sense of humor.”
Superman: “Do us both a favor, Bruce. Buy a sense of humor.”

We get a cliffhanger for next issue as Metallo then proceeds to dump a mountain of dirt on top of our heroes, burying them alive. Then to close the issue, we go to the Pentagon and President Lex Luthor. We’ve got a crisis on our hands, as an asteroid made of Kryptonite is headed for Earth. To complicate matters, President Luthor has recruited his own team of heroes…

Visually, the issue is gorgeous. Everything is bright, crisp, and clean. Ed McGuinness’ superhero figures are always jacked beyond belief. Practically every muscle in both Superman and Batman’s bodies are bulging for display. It’s not my favorite style choice. But it works for McGuinness in a cartoony, popcorn-flick sort of way.

Simply put, this issue has it all. Action. Drama. Beautiful art. Character exploration. Character origins. It’s appealing to fans, but 100% accessible even if you’ve never picked up a comic book before. What’s more, it’s the first chapter in one of the best Batman & Superman stories ever told.

Now that’s how you kick off a series.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

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Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: Juggernaut, Drakkon New Dawn, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Juggernaut #1
AUTHOR: Fabian Nicieza
ARTISTS: Ron Garney, Matt Milla (Colorist), Joe Sabino (Letterer). Cover by Geoff Shaw.
RELEASED: September 23, 2020

This is about what you’d think would come from a Juggernaut solo book. We dive into the more sensitive side of Cain Marko as he does, of all things, a damage control job.

The art doesn’t necessarily have the sense of movement that I was hoping to see from a Juggernaut comic. But the rendering of Cain himself is good, the book has a nice texture, and it’s got a decent opening premise. This issue won’t blow your mind. But it just might bring you back for next time.

TITLE: Power Rangers: Drakkon New Dawn #2
AUTHOR: Anthony Burch
ARTISTS: Simone Ragazzoni, Raul Angulo (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Jung-Geun Yoon.
RELEASED: September 23, 2020

We get a return here that’s not surprising, given the tease we saw last time. Thankfully, that return ushers in a certain return to form by the end of the issue. New Dawn was starting to look less and less like a Power Rangers story. I’m now mildly curious to see where they take this, which is more than I could say last time. So the issue accomplishes that, at least.

This art doesn’t do much for me. There’s a messiness to it. All the dull and drab colors of this “dark” timeline don’t do it any favors either.

TITLE: Batgirl #49
AUTHOR: Cecil Castellucci
ARTISTS: Robbi Rodriguez, Jordie Bellaire (Colorist), Andworld Design (Letters). Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, & Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
RELEASED: September 22, 2020

I dig Robbi Rodriguez’s art. But in this issue his version of Jim Gordon looks like a cartoon dog with an oversized mustache. Maybe scale that thing back?

One thing I appreciate about this series, granted having only revisited it recently, is how it’s more about the Gordon family than just Barbara/Batgirl. And indeed, that’s where most of the drama comes from in this issue. There’s also an apparent death that I really hope isn’t what it appears to be.

TITLE: Batman #99
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Jorge Jimenez, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: September 15, 2020

I’ve finally realized why “Joker War” isn’t landing with me: This “Joker knows Batman’s identity” genie is probably going back in the bottle. Hopefully sooner rather than later. So we’re missing a sense of consequence.

There’s a nice little moment between Batman and Dick Grayson in this issue. Though if the cover were to more accurately reflect what’s in the issue, it would feature Batman and Harley Quinn. She’s had a bunch of weighty conversations during “Joker War.” She might want to start a podcast at this point.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.